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Liverpool celebrated the return of Anfield fans on Sunday with a 4-0 win over Wolves.
Sitting three points off the top of the Premier League following Tottenham’s win over Arsenal earlier in the day, the Reds responded by claiming a typically won victory over Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Goals from Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip, along with an own goal by Nelson Semedo, tied them with Spurs on points to advance second on goal difference.
Perhaps encouraged by their returning fans, Liverpool got off to a brighter start and moved closer when Sadio Mane stepped in after a deft double with Andy Robertson.
But they were quickly reminded of the threat from the Wolves on the other end when Daniel Podence stuck out a finger to save Caoimhin Kelleher with a wonderfully inventive chip.
Otherwise, both teams seemed relatively comfortable on defense, and as such it came as no surprise that when the opening goal came, it was thanks to a mistake rather than a moment of invention.
Jordan Henderson’s ball over the top looked poised for a header but, in trying to knock it down, Conor Coady simply set Salah up for a left-footed shot in the right corner.
17 – Today is the 17th time Mo Salah has scored and assisted a goal in the same Premier League match with Liverpool; from 2017-18, this is five times more than any other player (Son Heung-min, 12). Strength. pic.twitter.com/5Al05BiK4J
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 6, 2020
The visiting captain appeared to have redeemed himself when he received a penalty at the edge of the break, but replays showed that Mane had indeed not touched him before falling into the box, causing a VAR loss.
Despite Liverpool’s lead, the second half continued in a nip and tuck fashion, with both sides creating half chances but remaining wary of over-engaging to attack.
However, the game was eventually taken from the Wolves at the hour mark thanks to Wijnaldum who, coming to halftime and using Coady as a shield, curved a beauty in the top corner of Kop’s end.
Matip quickly followed that up with a third, the defender heading into a delicious Salah cross from the right wing after finding himself at the top end of the field for a corner.
And a memorable night for the 2,000 fans allowed at Anfield was capped off with a fourth goal with a quarter of an hour to go, Semedo inadvertently slashing through his own net to try to block a Mane effort.
What does that mean? Champions keep Spurs in sight
Although their season has been largely defined by an injury crisis that is far from over, Liverpool continue to show that they are more than capable of retaining their Premier League title.
As for the Wolves, who remain in 10th place, the defeat serves to moderate the excitement that has surrounded their strong start to the campaign somewhat, particularly after the victory at Arsenal last time out.
The tireless Robertson shines again
He may have played more football than any other Liverpool player this season, but Robertson just keeps getting better.
The Scotsman took 87 touches (second only to Curtis Jones and Jordan Henderson), hitting eight crosses and regaining possession seven times as a star for the hosts.
Coady fights at Anfield comeback
Childhood Liverpool fan and a product of the club’s academy, Coady is always ready to impress when he returns to Anfield.
But the defender endured a night to forget, losing possession nine times, most importantly by scoring Salah’s goal, and completing only 61.5 percent of his passes to the opponent’s half.
Perhaps he was also lucky not to receive a yellow card for a penalty canceled at the end of the first half.
Opta key facts
5 – Five of Joel Matip’s six goals for Liverpool in all competitions have been headers, and five also came from a corner situation (a free kick). Objective. pic.twitter.com/ChMSFxiYs0
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 6, 2020
– Liverpool have won 31 of their last 32 league matches at home (D1), scoring 93 goals and conceding just 25 at the moment.
– The Wolves have lost eight straight league games with Liverpool, conceding 19 goals and scoring just two in this streak.
– Since Liverpool’s first game after Virgil van Dijk’s injury against Everton (Ajax in October), the Reds have conceded just six goals in 11 games across all competitions, keeping six clean sheets in the process.
– Mohamed Salah has 52 Premier League goals at Anfield with Liverpool. Only Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou (63) and Robert Lewandowski at the Allianz Arena (59) have more at a single venue in the five major European leagues since the Egyptian joined the Reds in 2017.
– At 22 years and 13 days, Caoimhin Kelleher became Liverpool’s third-youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League, after Scott Carson (19y 211d) and Chris Kirkland (21y 234d), and the youngest to do so in his first such start in the reds.
Liverpool will visit Denmark on Wednesday for a Champions League tie against Midtjylland before visiting Fulham four days later. The Wolves, meanwhile, head to Aston Villa next Saturday for an early start.